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Firefox 15 Out and Dazzles

Firefox 15 is out.

According to InformationWeek, the latest version of the Firefox web browser is better than ever.

Here is a summary of the new features:

  • Behind-the-Scenes Updates: No longer will you have to fuss over upgrades. It will happen in the background and “seamlessly implement the changes when the browser is next launched.” For those who rarely turn off their browser, this will be problematic, requiring a restart manually, but at least the annoying update announcements might be a thing of the past.
  • Graphics Unleashed: For two years, Firefox has been strategically planning to grab the market as the best browser for gaming and 3D graphics and now they are here. Graphic enhancements in Firefox 15 are supposed to rock for full-screen support, HTML5, and an amazing multimedia experience.
  • Improved Memory: While most software and web apps seem to get bigger and bigger, more demanding on the computer’s system, Mozilla’s team has been working hard to reduce the “memory footprint,” thus speeding up the browser and reducing the impact on the system. Memory crashes have continued to haunt Firefox for the past four years and it’s exciting to see the memory leaks finally dealt with. This is ideal for smaller laptops and notebooks without the processing and RAM strength of their big desktop brothers. A lot of work also went into shrinking down system leaks and weight for the new Android-based mobile version of Firefox.
  • Opus Integration: One of the most frustrating changes to come to recent Firefox releases is the company’s dropping of support for MP3. Podcasters have been frustrated with the decision, having to change audio players and methods to allow their podcasts to be accessed through Firefox. With their support for Ogg and ACC formats, they are now adding support for the new Opus audio format, promising this free audio format has better compression and quality than traditional MP3 support. Currently, MP3 requires license payments by browser developers. Opus is free and a collaboration between members of the IETF Internet Wideband Audio Codec working group which includes major players in the audio industry.
  • Improved Developer Tools: Since my first discovery of the web developer tools in the earliest versions of Firefox, the browser’s dedication to the developers of the world with powerful native and extension tools has been first rate. Improvements to the developer tools include JavaScript debugging, responsive design view for accessibility views and perspectives for designers and developers, Layout View as part of the Style and Page Inspector, and more.
  • Improved Ongoing Support for HTML5 and CSS3: As a leader in meeting web standards, Firefox embraced HTML5 and CSS3 early on and has evolved as the specifications have changed and moved towards adoption.

In July this year, Firefox Add-ons surpassed more than 3 billion downloads, a record for any browser or web app with extension capabilities. According to their statistics, more than 85% of all Firefox users have at least one extension installed on their web browser, with an average of five add-ons, which led me to wonder which ones are the most popular.

  1. AdBlock Plus
  2. Firebug
  3. NoScript
  4. Personas Plus
  5. Video Download Helper

That list says so much about Firefox users.

You can read the full Firefox 15 release notes on their site. Even their release notes have been improved with simple visual clues as to what’s new, changed, fixed, part of HTML4, and part of the developer tools.

I did a little walk through my history with Firefox. I’ve been reporting on Firefox since it’s official release in 2004, falling in love in 2005 with its fantastic incorporation of web developer tools. I announced the alpha version of Firefox 2.0 in January 2006. Firefox 2.0’s full launch came in October that year, part of the then slow release cycle. Today, Mozilla has pushed their updates out at rocket speed to not just keep up with the browser market but to also push out fixes to those memory leaks and crashing issues that plagued Firefox 4 and 5 in 2010-2011. While Adobe Flash was the biggest culprit, Firefox had its own issues, too.

March 2011 saw Firefox version 4 released. Version 5 followed in June, and six in August, seven in September, and eight in November, racing towards version 15 less than a year later. Testing is ongoing right now in releases 16 and 17, and you can participate through their Firefox Aurora for Desktop program.

With Firefox plateauing in the browser wars, being throttled by the fast rise of Chrome, it must jump to stay relevant. This release makes it not only relevant but critical to savvy web users, especially those into gaming, multimedia, and web design and development.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

11 Comments

  1. Posted September 4, 2012 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    It’s hard to fight with Chrome, it works very good. I was a long time Firefox user and didn’t think about changing at all and then, at one point, it bacame so slow and crashed too many times. I gave a Chrome a try and liked it very much. I use firefox sometimes but only as my secondary browser. I think it’s not easy to convince someone to switch the browser as long as he/she is satisfied. /Michal

    • Posted September 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      As I’ve written before, I too switched to Chrome when Firefox got buggy and crashed. After a year, I did a speed test on how long it took me to do the same tasks on both Chrome and the updated Firefox and I found Chrome slowed me down tremendously. I’m so dependent upon the powerful features and add-ons for Firefox to do my work efficiently and fast, and Chrome doesn’t measure up yet. Someday but right now, going back to Firefox saved my fingers and my time.

  2. Georg Kevin Paquet
    Posted September 4, 2012 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    That’s great news! I’ll try Firefox again later when I get home.

    Have been mainly using Safari right now, let’s see how it fares against it now.

  3. Jamie
    Posted September 5, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    I have been running it still have crashes. I don’t see any big changes.

    • Posted September 5, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      Check your version number. Many people are still on the Firefox 3.5 or 2.6 track and aren’t aware of the newer versions. The only time I’ve had a crash is when visiting a website designed with Flash. Many sites featuring Flash are using archaic code that will crash Chrome, IE, and Firefox. I’ve had this happen over and over again.

  4. lescot
    Posted September 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    What about Goggle Toolbar? Has Firefox fixed itself so that Google Toolbar will install and operate with this browser?

    • Posted September 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      What about Google Toolbar? Honestly, why is anyone using dumb toolbars any more? They suck memory and really offer very little value.

      If you are having crashing problems, go through your list of add-ons and streamline them down. Really look at what you need and what you have. There may be something causing problems. If you are having crashing issues when viewing Flash like YouTube, then update Flash immediately. If you continue to have problems, contact Mozilla and make sure you have reporting turned on so they can dig into what is wrong. I’ve had it up for days with nary a crash.

    • lescot
      Posted September 11, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Thanks so much for the advise, I will do just like U suggest and hopefully all will work fine after that. Once again thanks for Ur views on the problem. Les

  5. lescot
    Posted September 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Yeah me tooooo, Firefox 15 has already crashed a few times on me and I have only had it updated for a couple days or three thus far.

  6. Posted September 15, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I was such a huge fan of Firefox and then in the last two years the crashes, the freezing the quitting in the middle of working, ughhh. I just got so upset. I finally tried Chrome. I now use Chrome as the default and FF as the 2nd. The problem is I am a WordPress Website designer and I use certain tools and addons that I love with FF and Chrome does not have, so I am really back and forth between the two of them. It is frustrating.
    I wish I could just trust FF and go back to it full time.
    Sarari just quit on me last year and I have reinstalled it and tried everything and it just won’t work and IE is just the worst. With IE that stupid yellow message bar on the bottom every time you use the browser is ghastly and there is no way to get rid of it. I have to check out all my websites in all the browsers for clients, so I am really in the thick of it with these browsers all the time.

    • Posted September 15, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      @Lindalee, sounds like my story, which is why I’m thrilled to be back on Firefox with very little problem. I haven’t touched Chrome other than for testing in months. Unfortunately, I’ve had to use IE more than my fair share lately as I just finished teaching an HTML college course and everything had to be tested in IE. ARGH. Talk about painful. So I’m totally with you on that.

      I love it that you said you were in the “thick of it with these browsers all the time.” That’s wonderful. Many of us are but don’t realize how much of our work depends upon them. Love that you realize it, and respect and hate them equally. :D


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